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Angels

How state’s crime has grown over past five years

TACKLING crime is shaping up as a deciding factor in this year's State Election, with soaring low-level offences like burglary and car thefts convincing Queenslanders the issue is out of control.

The past five years has seen legislation brought in forcing killers to reveal the location of their victims' bodies and sentencing surrounding child homicide has been strengthened.

Frontline officers have been given body worn cameras, more police are on the beat and the ALP introduced its own less extreme anti-bikie laws.

Queensland Police Service figures show an increase of 9630 offences per 100,000 people in 2015 to 10,645 in 2019, with crime levels mostly remaining steady with the exception of low-level offences.

Dr Terry Goldsworthy spoke to media today regarding a report that was released about policing yesterday. Pic by Richard Gosling
Dr Terry Goldsworthy spoke to media today regarding a report that was released about policing yesterday. Pic by Richard Gosling

 

Bond University professor and former detective Terry Goldsworthy said there was an increase in reported crime for the categories of property and persons, but police enforcement captured by "other crimes" had remained stagnant.

"Reported crime that mums and dads report is going up," Dr Goldsworthy said.

"Our crime rate is going up yet our rate of prisoners has gone up astronomically, it's strange.

"The big focus for police should be on property for break-ins and unlawful uses (stolen cars)."

QPS statistics show stolen car offences increased from 195 per 100,000 people in 2015 to 311 in 2019.

Reported incidents of unlawful entry increased from 678 per 100,000 people in 2015 to 822 in 2019.

When asked who was ultimately responsible for policing issues Dr Goldsworthy said: "The government is responsible for setting the broad policy direction and the Commissioner is responsible for executing that."

 

 

Dr Goldsworthy questioned whether legislative changes had been no more than "window dressing".

"Look at the bikie laws, okay we've got consorting, I think we've had 2-3 people convicted under that, we've seen plenty of notices issues," he said.

"What actual crime are they disrupting?"

The LNP's "VLAD" laws, which added mandatory prison sentences of 15-25 years for gang crimes, were dropped by Labor.

The government also dropped anti-association laws and replaced them with consorting laws, making it an offence to consort with two or more convicted offenders.

It also banned bikies from wearing club colours in public, which police say has helped with intimidation and the public's fear of bikies.

In 2017, following a campaign by grieving families, laws were passed that would keep killers behind bars until they revealed where they'd hidden their victims' bodies.

 

The State Government dropped the tough VLAD laws for gang crime.
The State Government dropped the tough VLAD laws for gang crime.

 

The "no body, no parole" laws were fought for by Gary and Leanne Pullen, whose son Timothy was killed over a drug debt and his body dumped and burned.

The family of Bruce Schuler, a gold prospector shot dead during a North Queensland fossicking trip, also joined the fight.

Both men disappeared in 2012.

Many of those involved in Timothy's death were released after it was accepted his body had been totally destroyed and could not be recovered.

"I'm definitely glad the legislation came in," Mrs Pullen said.

"It really can give families hope."

Mrs Pullen said the legislation - which was also pushed for and supported by the LNP - was made stronger by families such as hers who fought for it to include those charged with accessory offences.

"Ultimately we haven't got our outcome but I truly believe these laws give hope to families that they will find their loved ones," she said.

 

The death of children such as Mason Lee prompted calls for tougher sentences on child killers.
The death of children such as Mason Lee prompted calls for tougher sentences on child killers.

 

In 2019, the ALP amended legislation to crack down further on child killers following a relentless campaign by families and The Courier-Mail.

A study of sentences on child homicide cases by the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council had found that on average, people who killed children were serving less prison time than those who had killed adults.

The report found that the median non-parole period served by child killers was only 3.7 years - although this also included cases where the child had died of neglect.

The amended legislation changed the definition of murder to include "reckless indifference to human life" and increased penalties in other child-harm related areas.

This included introducing an aggravating factor to the charge of manslaughter if the child was under the age of 12.

"The findings of the independent body, comprised of legal representatives and community advocates, reflected community concerns that the system was not working when it came to child manslaughter sentences," Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said at the time.

Youth justice issues have plagued the Palaszczuk government and police which have struggled to deal with problem kid crims.

 

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

Car theft from "sneak breaks" has been irritating for police who arrest children only to see them released on bail.

The problem has been so bad in Townsville residents have set up their own Facebook groups to help police catch youth offenders.

This week Commissioner Katarina Carroll announced a major structural shake-up to the service, appointing Paul Taylor as a deputy commissioner for regional Queensland, based in Townsville, in a move aimed to help ease concerns.

Earlier in its term Labor committed to moving 17-year-olds out of adult jails and into youth detention centres to align Queensland with the rest of the country.

But within months, police watchhouses, particularly Brisbane city, became increasingly filled with children as the youth detention centres had little or no capacity.

The issue prompted major criticism from the Queensland Police Union and the Public Guardian which forced the government to commit to building another youth detention centre and to appointing former police deputy commissioner Bob Gee to head a new department of youth justice as its director-general.



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